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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Graduation Rates

The graduation rate for students with disabilities has risen from 59 percent in 2010-11, to 61 percent in 2011-12, to the most recent statistics of 61.9 percent in 2012-13. That's 2.9 percentage points of growth over the time span. The student population as a whole has also shown improvement in graduation over that time, but the growth rate was just a hair slower: from 79 percent, to 80 percent, to 81.4 percent over the same three school years. That's 2.4 percentage points of growth.

A couple of caveats with these statistics: under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, students with disabilities are allowed to stay in school at least until age 21, or longer if state laws allow it (Michigan, for example, allows students to remain in public school until age 26.) So a 4-year graduation rate measure may not capture all students with disabilities who ultimately leave school with a "regular high school diploma," as the measure is intended to capture.
Also, states may have different definitions for what a "regular high school diploma" is for a students with a disability. For example, check out the difference between Kentucky and Arkansas policies, as explained in a 2013 document on promoting higher graduation rates in special education that was jointly published by the education reform organization Achieve the National Center for Educational Outcomes...disabilities_graduation_rate.jpg